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It's My Turn to Tell The Story

Digital Content Producer students Peter & Lucia shoot a story in Lynwood.

Who is a storyteller? Well, plainly speaking, it’s me…and you.

Digital stories or the “content” that abounds online has become a vital part of our daily lives. Crafting those stories can be challenging, but done well, they have great and important potential to educate and enlighten.

As an American journalist, writer and photographer for 30 years in Japan, I’ve have the great honor of telling thousands of stories from, let’s say, a ‘different perspective’ -- a foreign eye. I’ve been privileged to report, write, edit and photograph for some of the world’s most important international news publications and media outlets.

Now relocated in Los Angeles, I’m venturing forth into unknown territory. But I’m more excited than afraid at the chance to learn and share stories about this fantastic melting pot of a city. As a newcomer with a ‘different perspective’ I’m really looking forward to sharing those stories with you, with the hopes that you’ll be inspired to create and share your own stories.


DCP Senior Instructor Victor Abalos with students.

Digital Content Producer Course: Week 1

At the top of my list since moving to LA earlier this year is learning how to shoot and edit video to increase my skill sets. By digging through Meet ups I was able to find a course run by the Sabio bootcamp team that covered all the basics. I quickly signed up and was immediately contacted by instructor Victor Abalos. A veteran, high-profile TV journalist, his energy and enthusiasm is helping me to wade through the daunting technical knowhow necessary to produce content. Just call me an idiot. I don't mind. I simply cannot remember all the steps. I’ve been told that will change. Should I pray for a miracle?

DCP Student Lucia directs her informal portraits shoot.

What I do remember clearly is my mother, bless her soul, who inspired in me the urge to tell a story through visual means. At nearly every family vacation, YMCA swim meet, girl scout outing, graduation, and more, she was there filming my siblings and I with her Kodak Super 8 movie camera. We complained plenty, but thankfully persevered as the small rolls of film are now a precious record of our family history – my family’s story.

Producing digital content for news, business and other organizations is now in demand and sure to increase as we become more and more visually oriented. All nine students in the ‘Media Makers’ class plan to use this learning as career builders. Interestingly, we range in age from 20s to early 70s -- the ‘elders’ learning from the tech savvy millenials and vice versa.

Lucy and classmates shoot video at a DTLA animal hospital.

For the past week or so, filmmaker and editing virtuoso Sassy Mohen from Sabio has been on hand to help everyone with editing shoots. Part of the class shot video for the city of Lynwood which will use the free content for its social media platforms and website. Others went out to shoot at the Michelson Found Animals Foundation. Located in Culver City, the nonprofit advocates animal spaying and neutering. Their Spay Neuter Project of Los Angeles (SNPLA) is the largest welfare organization of its kind in California, and they will use the student footage in their various public education programs.

Later, my team shot video at the Grand Park Animal Hospital located in LA’s Little Tokyo district. Victor lent me an easy-to-use Canon Vixia HF R800, along with a mic that could fit into a holder. (We’re talking baby steps here.) The hours flew by as I shot and interviewed staff and pet owners. Throughout, I was desperately trying to conjur up an interesting story out of it – our assignment.

One of the vets shared her experience as a woman in the male dominated field. As part of this, she also revealed her deep concern about the growing lack of vets in the food supply industry – veterinary medicine for animals such as cattle and chickens that produce meat and eggs. “People don’t realize that if there aren’t enough veterinarians practicing this, there won’t be enough of this food available to eat,” she said.

So I was feeling good. I had an important story to share - only problem was, it was way too big. Time for a reality check – my assignment is to[LB1] produce a two-minute video. My days as an international journalist were over, for now. Maybe a few shots of cute cats will do?

Lucy Birmingham is a journalist, writer, editor, author and former photojournalist based in Tokyo for over 30 years, and now located in Los Angeles. As a journalist and writer, her articles have appeared in many publications such as TIME magazine,, the Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, Bloomberg News and Architectural Digest. As an arts and culture writer her articles have appeared in publications including,, ARTnews, Artscape Japan.

Lucy is currently a member of the Summer Cohort for Sabio's Digital Content Producer Program.

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